IDF Chief of Staff reiterates rules of engagement via BICom
Three hostages killed: IDF Chief of Staff Halevi visited troops inside Gaza and reflected on Friday’s incident where troops shot and killed three Israel hostages who managed to escape their captives.
- The three hostages had stripped to their waist to prove they did not have an explosive belt and carried an improvised white flag (a white cloth on a poll). They came out speaking Hebrew and asking for help.
- Two were shot by an IDF sniper, while the third was killed after he ran back inside a building.
- Since the incident, it also became apparent they had made a banner and written, “three hostages, help” in Hebrew as well as other signs.
- Halevi told the troops, “you see two people, they are with hands up and without shirts, take two seconds, and I want to tell you something just as important, and if it's two Gazans with a white flag coming out to surrender why would we shoot at them? Absolutely not. Absolutely not. That's not the IDF.”
- “I'm telling you whoever got confused here, even those who fought and now lay down their arms and raise their hands, we arrest them, we don't shoot them. We get a lot of intelligence from the captives we have, we already have over a thousand. We don't shoot them because the IDF doesn't shoot a person who raises their hands. That's strength, not weakness.”
Largest tunnel exposed: The IDF exposed a Hamas tunnel system with its exit point in close vicinity (400 metres) of the Erez crossing, at the northern tip of the Strip.
- According to the IDF, “this massive tunnel system, splits into branches of tunnels, spans well over four kilometres,” and reached 50 metres underground.
- The IDF described this tunnel as a “strategic attack tunnel network,” noting it was “large enough to drive vehicles through, was spearheaded by Muhammad Sinwar (the brother of Hamas leader) and intentionally dug near a crossing dedicated to the movement of Gazans into Israel for work and medical care.”
- Overall, the IDF has already exposed hundreds of tunnel shafts, but this one was significantly wider and more sophisticated than most. As with other tunnels, the IDF noted it was, “equipped with electricity, ventilation, sewage, communication networks and rails.”
- Many of the tunnels were deliberately built under hospitals, mosques, schools, and kindergartens. This largely explains the significant damage caused during Israel’s operations, particularly in northern Gaza, due to the need to destroy this underground network.
- It also speaks to the enormous investment, both financial and resources, that Hamas placed on this project though many years, with the sole objective of attacking Israel.
- Prior to the war, the Erez Crossing was the main crossing for Gazan civilians to enter Israel for work and to receive treatment in Israeli hospitals. According to the IDF, “in 2022, over 800,000 Gazans crossed via Erez Crossing; in the first half of 2023, 550,000.”
Fighting continues: The IDF continues its campaign fighting in both northern and southern Gaza.
- Over the weekend, troops continued to target Hamas fighters, including the latest example of Hamas combatants hiding in schools and hospitals.
- For example, in the Kamal Adwan hospital in Jabalya, around 80 fighters were arrested, some of whom terrorists who took part in the October 7th massacre. In addition, according to the IDF, “troops destroyed terror infrastructure in the area and located numerous weapons including AK-47s, RPGs, explosive devices, Nukhba military equipment, technological equipment, and Hamas intelligence documents.”
- They also questioned the hospital workers. “The workers confessed that weapons were hidden in incubators in the NICU, incubators that were supposed to be used to treat premature babies. Following the questioning, IDF troops located weapons, classified documents, and tactical communications equipment.”
- In the south, IDF forces in Khan Yunis “eliminated numerous terrorists, located approximately 30 tunnel shafts, and destroyed numerous anti-tank and lookout posts in the area. They also confiscated grenades and RPGs, and found intelligence materials including phones, computers and Hamas guidebooks.”
- Overall, the cost in terms of soldiers’ lives continues to rise, with three more soldiers’ deaths announced this morning, taking those killed since the ground incursion to 126.
Hostages: Despite numerous examples of tactical successes, the overall objectives of destroying Hamas and returning the remaining 129 hostages appear far from completion.
- On Friday, the head of the Mossad met with the Qatari prime minister to revisit the possibility of another hostage deal.
- At present, Israel is insisting that the first component includes the female captives that were supposed to be released as part of the first agreement.
- After that, Israel is keen to see the release of wounded and elderly men, and there is speculation that Israel would be willing to be “more generous” when it come to releasing Palestinian security prisoners.
- The head of Mossad is expected to travel to Europe later this week and again meet with Qatari prime minister to explore a new deal with Hamas.
Northern front: Hezbollah has kept up a persistent level of attacks across the length of the Israel-Lebanon border.
- Alarms were sounded across northern Israel throughout the weekend. This morning six rockets landed in uninhabited areas.
- Overall, hundreds of rockets and missiles have been fired from Lebanon. However, according to the IDF around 20 per cent of their rockets have landed inside Lebanon.
- The IDF also claims overall to have struck 120 terrorist cells firing or preparing to launch attacks from southern Lebanon.
- Syrian sources claimed that overnight Israeli air strikes targeted Hezbollah military sites inside Syria along with Syrian army air defence batteries.